Recently, the Scotts Valley City Council candidates were sent the following questions by a group of parents asking their views on various issues affecting our youths today. The questions and the candidates’ response in its entirety are as follows:

Rosanna Herrera:

1) What issues are your top concerns about the youth in our community?
First – the Security at our schools, with the school violence, etc…I have been asking for the past couple of years what our district has been doing to ensure that your kids are safe when they go to school, and what are the contingency plans should something happen.  Just last night I attended the district board meeting and asked what were the architectural provisions specifically addressing security at the new middle school.  I wasn’t satisfied with the answer so I am sending an email to Tanya and Mike Smith with recommendations.  You may not know but security is my expertise.
Second – we need a place where the kids can hang out and have their own community in a safe environment.  I have purposed to our SV Rotary club to sponsor a teen night at Bruno’s where they can have the high school bands come and play and they can have dances.  This was just approved and I have spoken with Beth Hollenbeck about it and she is supportive.  Once Beth is back (she had surgery) we will see if this is something the kids want to do…
Third – I believe they need an outlet to address their concerns without fear of retribution.

2) What is your opinion about the core trigger for risky behavior of youth in our community?
Kids need to be guided in self control, decision making, a grounded belief system, self worth…they need a sense of stability in their homes and if not there then in their communities.  I belief self esteem is essential, back in the 1990 John Vasconsellos was preaching that this was the way we save our youth.  Our kids need a sense of self worth and purpose.

3) How do we help each child in our community thrive?
First they need to fell safe, secure, and wanted, second we need to give them the guidance and power to make decisions and be responsible for the consequences of those decisions, and third we need to be there for them…What can we improve?  Everything, I believe life is a daily opportunity to improve.  We need to let them know we are there for them without being intrusive, let them fall if they need to because that’s how they learn to get up, let them take responsibility and do it their way even if we see it won’t work out – they need to learn from their mistakes – and when we see them heading over that cliff – be there with a parachute.

blue dividerJack Dilles:

1) What issues are your top concerns about the youth in our community?
Safety and protection from bullying.
Academic success.
Illegal drug use and alcohol use.
Adequate and accessible counseling resources.
Healthy activities and venues in the community.

2) What is your opinion about the core trigger for risky behavior of youth in our community?
I believe young people need to feel safe, loved and valued by those around them. They need at least one person in their lives who will support them, listen to them and advocate for them.  If they do not have such support, they are more likely to use drugs and look for acceptance from a group or person engaged in risky behaviors.

3) How do we help each child in our community thrive? What can we improve?
We can support our schools and community organizations and strive to provide more accessible counseling services through them.

We can strive to provide parenting skills classes through community based organizations or schools so that parents have an opportunity to learn positive parenting skills.

We can encourage our schools to hire and keep teachers who care about the welfare and the education of every student in their classes and who recognize and identify the strengths in every student. I know we have many excellent teachers, but we should make sure our teachers are well trained and supported.

We can work towards creating more positive venues for our youth like the planned Boys and Girls Club, the Sports Center and perhaps a Teen Center in a City facility.

We can support a community value that holds youth accountable for inappropriate actions and partners that accountability with counseling and second chances, so long as the safety of youth is maintained.

We can encourage our youth more to speak up and say something about inappropriate behavior, drugs and bullying.

We can encourage schools to provide classes to students on bullying and how to recognize and deal with it.

blue dividerDonna Lind:

1)  What issues are your top concerns about the youth in our community?
I was Scotts Valley’s first Juvenile Officer and actually started our program in the schools in 1978.  I have some of the same concerns today that I did then in helping kids make healthy choices including avoiding drug & alcohol abuse, dealing with peer pressure and avoiding risky behavior including driving and unsafe sexual activity.  A difference in today’s society is social media that adds to the bullying issues, relationships developed on line and things posted that can affect their future.  It’s difficult for parents to stay up with the rapidly changing social media to be able to monitor their kids and it’s good to see law enforcement & others offering programs to provide awareness information concerning social media.

2) What is your opinion about the core trigger for risky behavior of youth in our community? 
I believe peer pressure is the major contributor.  Young people are greatly influenced by peer pressure.  They want to be liked, to fit in and to be popular so they’re more vulnerable to peer pressure to get involved in risky behavior. They also tend to feel invincible at younger ages and influenced by things they see in media.

3) How do we help each child in our community thrive? What can we improve?  
I have worked with the Criminal Justice Council on topics including the Santa Cruz County Youth Violence Task Force and glad to see representatives from education, probation, courts, youth groups and law enforcement involved. Recently I initiated meetings with Scotts Valley PD’s Juvenile Officer, SRO and Det. Sergeant with representatives of the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency to introduce the Invincible Youth Project.

As I mentioned, I initiated Scotts Valley’s Juvenile Program that not includes the DARE Program, Junior Police Academy and the Explorer Program that I believe are helpful to our youth. I believe that developing relationships with youth and law enforcement increases communication and awareness.  All of these programs can help youth deal with peer pressure and help them avoid risky behavior. I also developed Scotts Valley’s first Juvenile Diversion Program that includes getting troubled youth into appropriate counseling and therapy which I still believe in. The Diversion program includes a process to eliminate the juvenile’s arrest record upon successful completion of the program. The program has been recognized state-wide for it’s success in greatly reducing recidivism. The First Friday Program is another program that is helpful in helping kids become stronger independent thinkers and uses positive peer pressure. I’ve been excited about the Invincible Youth Project and would like to see it move forward in Scotts Valley Schools.  For some time funding caused cutbacks of local school counselors and programs. I’m thankful for the work done by the Scotts Valley Parent’s Club for funding to return school counselors.

As noted, I hope the work can continue with additional programs and resources for local youth.  Because Scotts Valley is such a wonderful safe community to raise a family, sometimes parents can become complacent and not realize that even in the best communities, kids are still exposed to the same challenges that kids face in other areas.

blue divider

Randy Johnson

  1. What issues are your top concerns about the youth in our community?
    I am the parent of three children, which has afforded me the opportunity to interact with children of all ages in many different arenas.  Scotts Valley is fortunate to have so many parents who love and care about their children, who guide and encourage them to healthy and productive lifestyles.  But our youth is not immune from social issues that affect most communities.  Drugs and alcohol problems exist along with other challenges.

    I think one of the overlooked problems is anxiety with the pressure to succeed in a tight-knit community.  Too often our youth can get caught up in the comparison trap, which is why we as community leaders, teachers and coaches, need to embrace children and celebrate their unique talents and gifts.  We need to watch out for the” invisible” child, who falls outside defined categories of success, and needs to feel connected to their peers and not feel isolated in their community.

     2)  What is your opinion about the core trigger for risky behavior of youth in our community?
    There can be many triggers for youth to engage in risky behavior, such as boredom, rebelliousness, peer pressure, and even just curiosity.  Our job as community leaders and parents is to educate children at an early age and to provide resources for children so they feel loved and supported.  This often comes not only from parents, but from teachers, coaches, youth group leaders, etc.

    Fostering organizations in our community that provide educational programs for our youth is key.  For example, our police departments’ DARE program starts early in elementary school educating our children about the consequences of drug use and while giving them the tools to handle peer pressure in the future.  Our job is to encourage more programs of that nature and to encourage an atmosphere of acceptance that helps our youth cope through difficult stages in their lives.

    3) How do we help each child in our community thrive? What can we improve?
    Getting children involved and helping them feel connected is essential to them thriving in our community. I think our city and schools do a great job in giving them the opportunity to participate in activities that allow them to feel engaged.

    The opportunities are there: a myriad of clubs at school, recreational sports, school sports, youth groups, church, singing and drama programs, tutoring programs, Boys and Girls Club (on the horizon),  after school programs, junior police academies (which encourages respect for police).
    But we need to enhance our commitment to provide that safety net for those who may have an acute emotional or even physical disability and continuing to provide activities and programs that are inclusive. The city invests every year in the Human Care Alliance and that affords access to counseling to help families in need. And as our city becomes more financially stable, I look forward to investing even more in this critical area.

*The replies were listed in the order in which they were returned. Dene Bustichi did not submit a response.